Dog Breeding – When to call the Veterinarian

It is better to call your veterinarian with a false alarm, if only to gain reassurance, than to hope the problem will disappear with time. Most whelping problems can be dealt with rather simply when they are attended to at once. However, the same problem, when neglected, can become complicated – often leading to emergency surgery.

Signs of birthing problems include:

  • Thirty to 60 minutes of active straining without birth of a puppy
  • Four hours between births when more puppies are expected
  • Two hours of weak, ineffectual labor without the birth of a puppy
  • A purulent or hemorrhagic vaginal discharge
  • Presence of fetal membranes at the vulva for more than 15 minutes
  • Apathy or weakness, with a rectal temperature above 104°F (40°C) or below 97°F (36°C)
  • Passing dark green or bloody fluid before the birth of the first puppy


A dark green vaginal discharge indicates that the placenta is separating from the wall of the uterus. When this happens, the first puppy should be born within a few minutes. After the first puppy, the passage of dark green fluid is not a concern.